Forty-four thousand dollars is certainly a meaningful amount of money to me, but apparently not so meaningful as to encourage a sizeable portion of physicians to adopt meaningful use standards for electronic health records.
“As of May 2012, a total of 62,226 eligible professionals had attested to meaningful use under the Medicare program,” according to a letter in the February 21 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. “This represents 12.2 percent of the estimated 509,328 eligible physicians in the United States, including 9.8 percent of specialists and 17.8 percent of primary care providers.”
So while the growth in the number of participating doctors might seem dramatic at first glance (see our chart from the January issue of Managed Care), the actual numbers are underwhelming, according to the letter written by Adam Wright, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
“Although these data suggest rapid growth in the number of providers achieving meaningful use, this pace must accelerate for most eligible professionals to avoid penalties in 2015,” he writes. “Barriers to EHR adoption and meaningful use include cost, lack of knowledge, workflow challenges, and lack of interoperability.”
There are 15 core objectives that must be met in order for the government to underwrite up to $44,000 in new technology costs per physician, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in January that doctors are flailing. “Some physicians with systems supporting the 13 core objectives examined in this report may not have a system that supports the remaining two objectives, as well as 5 of the 10 Menu Set objectives required for payment.”